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A most pleasant, fruitful, and witty Work, of the best State of the Public Weal, and of the new Isle called Utopia... translated into English by Raphe Robinson, A.D. 1551.

Stock Code 111528

London, Printed by William Bulmer at the Shakespeare Press, Cleveland-Row, for William Miller, Bookseller and Publisher, in Albermarle-Street, 1808

Original price £1,500.00 - Original price £1,500.00
Original price £0.00
£1,500.00 - £1,500.00
Current price £1,500.00
First Dibdin octavo edition. A finely printed example of one of the most important works of English philosophy and social commentary which coined the term utopia.

The first Dibdin edition of Thomas More's Utopia in octavo format, with his biography of the writer and bibliography of More's published works. The text follows the first English translation made by Ralph Robinson (1520-1577) for the private use of his friend, George Tadlow, who was a City haberdasher. A loose rendering, Robinson initially resisted calls for publication before the work was printed in 1551. Nevertheless, his translation is now regarded 'among the treasures of our literature' (Arber) as an imaginative piece of sixteenth-century prose.

The tale begins when More encounters the fictional character Raphael Hythloday, a traveller who has just returned from voyages with Amerigo Vespucci. Hythloday tells More of a distant island called Utopia, where all property is held in common and gold and silver are used not as currency but as the material for making shackles and chamber pots. However, all is not as it seems, and the paradoxes in the names of Hythloday ('the nonsense speaker') and Utopia ('nowhere') reveal a more complex story.

A handsome copy in contemporary straight-grained blue morocco, probably by Charles Meyer, binder to Queen Caroline, with distinctive barbed quatrefoil spine ornaments (see item 242 in Maggs, Bookbinding in the British Isles, Catalogue 1075, Part II). Meyer came to London from Germany in the 1790s and remained in business at 2 Hemmings Row off St. Martin's Lane until about 1819.

Dibdin 8vo edition; 2 vols; 8vo (19 x 13.5 cm); engraved frontispiece, woodcut vignettes; contemporary straight-grained blue morocco probably by Charles Meyer, floral gilt roll within double Oxford borders, spine gilt in 6 compartments, 2 with lettering, the others with barbed quatrefoil ornaments, all edges gilt, minor wear, slight offsetting to title, a few ff roughly cut, otherwise internally very clean, a handsome copy; VIII, vclxxx, 141, [1]; [2], 320, [2]pp.


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MORE, Sir Thomas; DIBDIN, T.F. (editor).

Stock code: 111528



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